Business travelers return to Las Vegas after shootings

Hugo Martin, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Las Vegas' convention and meeting business seems to be rebounding after the Oct. 1 mass shootings in the city, operators of two of the city's biggest casinos and resorts said.

The city is one of the nation's most popular spots to hold conventions, trade shows and business meetings, and such gatherings are an important source of revenue for hotels, restaurants and other travel-related businesses.

The city hosted nearly 43 million visitors last year, with 6.3 million of those attending conventions. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has yet to release visitation numbers for October.

In earnings reports over the past few weeks, executives from MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts say booking trends for groups remain strong after the shootings, in which 58 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded. The gunman had holed up on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

"We are pretty much back to normal (on) booking trends here at Wynn for the end of this year through next year," Maurice Wooden, president of Wynn Las Vegas, told analysts in a conference call to discuss third-quarter earnings.

Steve Wynn, chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts, said: "If you're going to ask what effect did the tragedy at Mandalay have on us, none that we can measure."

Executives at MGM Resorts echoed Wynn's assessment. MGM owns and operates the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

MGM Resorts Chief Executive Jim Murren said cancellations surged after the shootings, and MGM responded by suspending its advertising.

"I'm happy to say that these cancellations progressively subsided by mid-October, and our booking pace remarkably returned to normalized levels almost immediately thereafter," he said.

Convention organizers also have promised to return to Las Vegas, he said.

"Some of the largest groups we've ever had, including at Mandalay, said that they were going to not only stay, but were going to book again and again and honor the destination. And so, our booking pace going into next year is extremely strong," Murren said.

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